Man, female inmate charged after drug-filled drone lands at O.C. jail

Local news

A female inmate and a Costa Mesa man are facing charges after working together to try to smuggle drugs into an Orange County jail using a drone, prosecutors said Thursday.

Megan Elizabeth Donovan, a 30-year-old from Fountain Valley, is accused of calling Chey Cody Smart on a jailhouse phone Sunday and directing him on where to land the drone inside the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

The 41-year-old Costa Mesa man had allegedly loaded the drone with two grams of heroin, four grams of methamphetamine, 15 Xanax pills and 15 muscle relaxers.

But at some point the drug-laden drone crashed in a grassy area inside the jail, and it was discovered Tuesday by an inmate worker who alerted guards, the DA’s office said.

Smart was arrested at his Costa Mesa apartment later that same day, and investigators obtained a search warrant for his home.

They say they found numerous illegal firearms, various narcotics including fentanyl and a controller that paired with the drone that landed at the O.C. jail, authorities said.

Smart also used fake identification to rent his home and buy a 2018 BMW, prosecutors said. Sheriff’s deputies said he additionally possessed a stolen vehicle.

While combing through the residence, detectives also uncovered materials that they determined to be tied to identity theft and fraudulent criminal activity, according to sheriff’s officials.

Prosecutors say Donovan was previously convicted of bringing drugs into a correctional facility in Orange County.

Both Smart and Donovan have been charged with smuggling controlled substances into a correctional facility and conspiracy to commit a crime, both felonies, the DA’s office said.

Smart faces a slew of additional charges — seven felony and seven misdemeanor counts — including identity theft, grand theft auto and possession of a controlled substance with a firearm.

Sheriff’s investigators said they also discovered an arrest warrant had been issued in Mendocino County for Smart on felony weapons charges.

Smart, who prosecutors say was previously convicted of felony drug sales, could face up to 12 years in state prison and nearly six years in county jail if convicted as charged.

Donovan, meanwhile, could faces up to five years in state prison if convicted on both counts.  

Orange County DA Todd Spitzer said people are “becoming increasingly creative in their attempts to smuggle drugs into correctional facilities,” adding that the crime “puts the lives of inmates at risk and jeopardizes the safety of the deputies and other staff who work in those facilities.”

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